Iran’s North Khorasan Province: Aspakhu Fire Temple

North Khorasan, Iran – Aspakhu MapThe Aspakhu (Espakhou) Fire Temple is one of the oldest structures in Iran’s North Khorasan Province. According to studies and excavations it belongs to the Sassanid era (AD 224 to AD 651).

It is located by the village of Aspakhu (also romanized as Espakhou, Aspakhv), 65 kilometers west of Ashkhaneh, in Maneh and Samalqan County, North Khorasan Province, Iran.

The temple is built on top of a high hill next to a forest of pines and cedar trees. Beyond its entrance into a rectangular yard, a corridor leads to a domed room in the eastern part of the structure. The Fire Temple has a domed roof and consists of stones and mortar, further strengthening the assumption of its Sassanid origins. It is believed that the Fire Temple gets its name from the word Hasb which gradually evolved into Asb (meaning horse). The area and village in particular appeared to have been a training ground for horses.

Photos by Ehsan Kamaly for Mehr News Agency.

Locals refer to the Fire Temple as a church although there has been next to no evidence of any past Christian residents. Furthermore the domed roof, its scattered slits (presumably to allow smoke to escape), and its round altar give the Fire Temple theory more credibility.

A fire temple in Zoroastrianism is the place of worship for Zoroastrians. In the Zoroastrian religion, fire, together with clean water, are agents of ritual purity. Clean, white “ash for the purification ceremonies [is] regarded as the basis of ritual life,” which, “are essentially the rites proper to the tending of a domestic fire, for the temple [fire] is that of the hearth fire raised to a new solemnity” (Boyce, 1975:455).

In 2010-2011 studies were being made to research the feasibility of renovations to the Fire Temple. The Espakhoo Fire Temple has been registered as a national heritage site, with the number 1579, by Iran’s Cultural Heritage Department.

A beautiful photo of Aspakhu Fire Temple at night by Abbas Rastegar: National Geographic | Your Shot | Aspakhv fire

Sources: Mehr News Agency | Aspakhv Fire, Payvand News of Iran, Historical Iranian Sites and People | Espakhoo Fire Temple, Wikipedia | Aspakhu


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